Today’s post is Chapter 5 in our series re-printing Frank Brooks’ “Travelling by Trolley in Mississippi: Stories about Streetcars.” View other posts in the series at the “Streetcars” tab.
Mississippi was not one of the states which boasted an honest to goodness system of interurban railways, simply because Mississippi has never had a dense concentration of people in connecting cities who need frequent, fast public transportation between them. The Gulfport and Mississippi Coast Traction Company’s operation appears to come close to being an interurban. The other company which may be thought of as being a small interurban operation was the line between Laurel and Ellisville. A delightful park about half way between those two towns provided abundant patronage from both cities during the warm months.
Local streetcar service began running in Laurel in November of 1912. The interurban line to Ellisville was opened in August of 1913. The new company was named Laurel Light and Railway Company and its offices, power station and repair shops were located in Laurel. In addition to the streetcar service, the company also provided the community with a general lighting and power business. Equipment included 13 passenger trolleys, 1 motor freight and 1 service car. These cars traveled over 14 miles of track. The separate lines intersected at Oak and Magnolia Streets in downtown Laurel. From that point the lines made their ways outward to 4 terminals, not including the Ellisville line. The longest city line ran north on First Avenue to 19th Street, where it swung over to Second Avenue and ended at the Marathon Mill Pond. There was a short section of double track on First Avenue for cars to pass each other. Local trolleys left the downtown intersection point at 20 minute intervals for runs on the various lines within the city. The interurban run posted an hourly schedule of departures for Ellisville. That service left from the Central Avenue corner on Ellisville Boulevard, where a waiting room was provided in the old Coca Cola building.
The interurban line ran parallel to the Southern Railway between Laurel and Ellisville. Upon its arrival in Ellisville, the trolley line crossed the steam line, went through downtown Ellisville and continued to the junior college where it terminated.
This operation was sold to the Mississippi Power Company in 1925. Three years later, that company tried to abandon the service to Ellisville, but later withdrew that proposal. Service then continued on the interurban run for several more years. However, the carbarn burned in 1934, and that event proved to be the straw that broke the camel’s back because the cars never ran again after that fire. According to those that remember, the Laurel system was a grand little operation in a delightful small city!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Frank A. Brooks, Jr. has loved trains and streetcars for as long as he can remember. He and his wife Jo Anne are parents of 2 children and grandparents of 4. During his active ministry of 43 years in the Presbyterian Church he served in Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia and Arkansas. In retirement, Dr. and Mrs. Brooks live in her hometown Corinth, MS.